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Kansas Jayhawks Football: Charlie Weis Already Transforming the Program

Shawn SchallerContributor IIJune 25, 2016

Kansas Jayhawks Football: Charlie Weis Already Transforming the Program

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    Like most coaches hired during the middle of the offseason, the Kansas Jayhawks' new head football coach Charlie Weis hasn't had much time to mold his team before spring practice.

    However, in a very short time, Weis has put a powerful stamp on the program.

    On the practice field, in the classroom, in season ticket sales and in the hearts of (most of) his new fanbase, Weis has made a good impression on nearly every facet of the football program.

    Whether the changes Weis is making are truly good or bad remains to be seen, but after two consecutive devastating seasons under Turner Gill, no change was the only wrong answer.

    This article explores seven ways in which our program is being drastically changed under the new head coach.

The Defense

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    Finally, Kansas has a defensive coordinator who gets it.

    No longer will an emphasis be placed on whether or not the Jayhawks are a 4-3 team, a 3-4 team or a 4-2-5 team.

    Defensive Coordinator Dave Campo prefers a team with a variety of personnel. He'll put his best personnel on the field in the alignment best-suited to them in any given situation.

    For those of you who hate ambiguous answers, that appears to be a standard 4-3 alignment with the given personnel. However, Campo is a technician—he won't be afraid to fiddle with the alignment at a moment's notice. Plus, more defensive reinforcements will be arriving shortly.

    Take nothing for granted just yet.

The Depth Chart

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    Obviously, changes to the depth chart accompany changes to the roster and coaching philosophy, both of which will be addressed later.

    No longer will Julius Green disappear from the two-deep depth chart without significant explanation. (I'm not referring to his dismissal, but from his metaphorical disappearance last season.)

    No longer will Marquis Jackson and Brian Maura magically appear at running back and safety (respectively) without honest reasoning directly from the head man himself.

    It appears, fellow KU fans, that we will no longer be kept in secrecy behind a veil of ambiguous excuses if Weis can reasonably help it.

    Also, what fun would a new coaching staff be without a completely revamped, shot-in-the-dark fun of a pre-spring depth chart featuring names such as DE Josh Richardson, DT Shane Smith and OG Gavin Howard in surprisingly high places (for now)?

The Offense

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    This is a given. (In fact, most of what you'll read here may be.)

    Weis had possibly his least successful season last year with the Florida Gators. Fortunately, the expectations at the University of Kansas are much lower. In fact, the Kansas Jayhawks are currently about as offensive as a sock puppet.

    Any progress whatsoever with the offense will be humbly and graciously accepted by nearly every Jayhawk fan.

    If Kansas doesn't get better on this side of the ball, it won't be from a lack of trying. Look for the Jayhawks to be more aggressive this year...much more aggressive.

The Roster

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    Duh—of course there have been roster changes. They happen every year, and even more so under a newly hired head coach.

    However, you have to admit that this season's overhaul has been a bit more drastic than normal.

    JaQwaylin Arps, Dexter McDonald, Darrian Miller, Brock Berglund, Malcolm Walker, Isaac Wright, Keeston Terry, Adonis Saunders, Jordan Webb, Tyrone Sellers, Tom Mabry, Julius Green and Travis Bodenstein have all been released from the program.

    Those aren't practice squad guys, either—most of them were supposed to be the future of the program.

    Exchange this group for a relatively large recruiting class, a few transfers and a new crop of open tryout walk-ons, and you've got a pretty extreme roster change.

    I'll combine this particular slide with changes being made in the classroom. This is an underrated, extremely important facet of college football, and Weis should be heralded for taking charge of it.

The Way Fans View the Coaching Staff

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    This has a lot to do with simply speaking (and a little more to do with being outspoken).

    Two years ago, Turner Gill was saying the nice things. After the abrasive end Kansas met with former head coach Mark Mangino, those nice things also happened to be the right things.

    Now, after two years of apparent apathy and pathetic performance on the gridiron, Weis is speaking a little more directly. He's calling out players, the way the program is laid out and the habits of former coaches, both on the football field and in the classroom.

    These also happen to be the right things at this particular point in time.

    Regardless of the outcome, the move to hire Weis was an meaningful signal to the NCAA that Kansas is still very serious about its football program. This coaching staff, specifically Weis and Campo, have brought a nationally and professionally significant image to campus that Kansas has never had before.

The James Sims Suspension

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    This is arguably Weis' biggest move as head coach thus far. Junior running back James Sims was the one and only star to emerge from Kansas' last two football seasons.

    He gained yards and scored touchdowns as the focal point of a grossly one-dimensional offense, despite sharing carries with a stable of other, moderately talented backs.

    Now he's in Weis' doghouse—but there's a chance it could become a positive.

    The head coach/offensive coordinator now has an excuse to get numbers two through six of his running back stable (including a new addition, sophomore wide receiver Marquis Jackson) some high quality reps and the opportunity to show his team that no name is too sacred.

    This truly is a new regime.

    Perhaps the situation will help James Sims as well. Now he'll have to work twice as hard to get back in the coaches' good books, especially if the offense experiences success without him. How he responds will be pivotal to the new image of the Jayhawks' football program.

The Quarterback Position

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    Although the previous slides aren't necessarily in any order (though I made an attempt at listing them by increasing significance to the program), choosing which to show last was easy.

    Quarterback has undergone more transition than any other individual position on the football team. No position has received more attention or is now under more pressure to succeed.

    We finished last season with Jordan Webb, Quinn Mecham, Michael Cummings, Blake Jablonski and two quarterback-turned-wide-receivers.

    That's one starter with little potential, a senior backup, an unproven dual-threat, a walk-on and two wide receivers.

    This season will feature Dayne Crist, Turner Baty, Jake Heaps, Michael Cummings, Blake Jablonski and two quarterback-turned-wide receivers. That's one talented (albeit oft-injured) senior starter, a sophomore backup with junior college experience, a potential starter for 2013 and 2014, an unproven dual-threat with no pressure to compete, a walk-on and two wide receivers. Oh, and Kansas has signed a highly touted quarterback from the class of 2013.

    Even if the position shows little mechanical or statistical improvement in the 2012 season (i.e., Crist flames out or has another knee blow out), it's still been the source of a complete overhaul this offseason.

    Both Weis and the media love quarterbacks, and Kansas sorely needed new ones. The collision has created a delectable smorgasbord of signal-caller excitement on campus.

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